A Wake-Up Call

The dark just before dawn is a magical time.  The earth is morphing from the dreamlike state of night to the brightness and focused attention of day.  In like manner, most people are transitioning from sleep to wakefulness, from the slower pace of sleep to the activity of the day.  The dawn is special; it is the coming of the light.  A light switch in a home is also magical, though more sudden. It, too, brings light into a darkened area, revealing that which we could not see in the dark.  Often, it reveals to us work which we need to do, work which we may have preferred to ignore in favor of the more relaxed pace of the dark.  Sometimes, if we have ignored that work too long, it is painful to address: mountains of filing to be done, dusty clutter in basements to be cleared, overgrown lawns or gardens to be tended to are some of these.    Our current pandemic situation can be construed as a time of dark, when everything slows, pending work of the world is ignored or concealed, and the media at least try to keep telling us how lucky we are to have this time off.  Times of darkness are valuable times of introspection and renewal; they are also times when we are tempted to give in to the human fear of the dark and ignore anything but our fear.

Whatever our individual opinions on the coronavirus pandemic may be, it is obvious that the attention of most of us is placed on the pandemic, repeatedly focused there by the media.  Whether we think of when the lockdown will end, how we will survive unemployment or partial employment, the chances of getting sick or dying, staying six feet apart, the usefulness or need of masks, gloves, worry about whether others are following the rules, how to keep kids amused and engaged, opportunities to exercise or availability of food and supplies, the attention is on some aspect of the pandemic.   Other critical issues seem forgotten by most, except for activists or those who are campaigning.  We need to learn our lessons of introspection and begin emerging from our darkness to pay attention to what else is going on.  Our Earth, especially, needs our attention, including our planet and all its denizens, among them humans and their cultures.

Without a planet, any other issue with which we may be concerned is immaterial, because we will no longer be there to engage with it, and the Earth itself may or may not continue to be able to support life.   Our lives after this coronavirus dissipates will not in any case be the same as they were before the virus began.  However, if we wish to shape the directions our lives take, we will need to be ready to make changes on many fronts.  It is time we began looking at those fronts.

As our systems are interconnected, it is difficult to isolate any one of them with which to begin.  Perhaps they need to be addressed at the same time, each part by those with expertise in that part.  Our economic (especially banking) systems enable our energy systems, which enable our food production and distribution, which feed into our health systems and our medicines, all of which enable our media systems and our military systems, which in turn support our economic systems.  It is a Gordian knot.    We creative humans have built a massive, impressive construction for ourselves; that creation is on the verge of destroying the planet.  Three video productions, one older, two recent, vividly illustrate what is happening that we prefer not to see.  Earth 2100 (PBS) is fictional; it is an excellent pseudo-documentary of the years between 2000 and 2100, well done, based on fact and interesting to watch.  The Story of Plastic (by the environmental group The Story of Stuff, shown on the Discovery Channel) is a visceral revelation of what we have done with our desire for convenience and profit and the overwhelming task of cleanup.   Planet of the Humans by Michael Moore, available on You Tube, pulls back the curtain on what we are headed towards on the path we now walk.  They are not pleasurable distractions, but thought-provoking and hopefully action-inspiring information we need if we have the courage to look and act.

The main components of the Gordian knot we have built ourselves can be summarized as Big Oil/Big Energy, Big Agriculture, Big Health and Medicine, Big Media, Big Military, and Big Banks. Big Technology facilitates all of them. It is hard to talk about one without the other, and certainly there are experts on each topic.  However, it does not need a technical expert to know some things. One is that technology is an extremely useful tool and may help us if we can use it with humility.  However, it is not God, and it will not save us, especially if we worship it, put our hopes and reliance on it.  It will not help us to make no change and simply continue with some variety of the systems we are now following. 

The changes we need will not be convenient.  They will require us to take care of ourselves and each other, rather than being taken care of by a hopefully benevolent government.  They will require us to accept and respect each other with all our differences; we cannot require everyone to be the same, nor can we require everyone to adhere to the same ideas.   We will have to find ways to peacefully cooperate and to join as one while at the same time honoring each other’s differences.  We will have to give up the idea of killing – each other, the old, the young, the Earth and her denizens – for the sake of short-term profit or aggrandizement.  We will have to learn to live more simply, attaching our self-worth and comfort to inner/spiritual health rather than the production, consumption and amassment of things.     That is a huge task.

For example, in order to reduce the rising temperature of the planet, we need immediately to stop extracting and using fossil fuels. That is not so easy when we realize that the technology needed to make such things as solar panels or wind farms consumes fossil fuels and releases carbon dioxide as much or more as the panels or wind farms save.  Those things will not save us.  In addition, the electricity on which we all depend is itself dependent on fossil fuels. Yes, it is cars and factories, but not just that.  Imagine a world without electricity.  Imagine how we will live in such a world.  We also cannot burn up our forests for fuel, as the forests themselves are the lungs of the world, sequestering the carbon and providing us with oxygen.  Imagine living in a world in which our only fuel to burn would be the twigs and dead wood which are naturally created in the lifespan of a tree.  We may need to know how to do that.  It is not convenient.

Many people think that reducing our population is the answer to our problems:  fewer people, less need for resources.  Of course, none agree on who it is who should be culled.   Killing off the unborn or the elderly or the disabled or those different from the powerful does not result in a better situation; it results in an unbalanced population.   Pandemics are an equalizing way of reducing population, but most of us would prefer to avoid them.   Nature has a way of balancing populations; when an ecosystem can no longer provide for an ever-expanding species, that species simply quits or limits reproducing for a time.  They do not have the technology to create (imperfect) contraceptives; they simply abstain.  Are we as strong as they?  Can we do that?   (Try reading Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis and focus on the description of the Hrossa.)

We need to reduce our sprawl, which has devastated the habitats of animals who now try, to our chagrin, to live among us.  No more suburbs.    Cities can be built vertically, both in high rises and low rises (beneath the ground).  Here, our technology might be useful in making these more comfortable.  Or, we can build rurally in clusters, with the expanse of land around the clusters rather than around individual homes.   Can we agree to live in density?  Can we agree to govern ourselves based on the decisions of likeminded groups gathered together, respecting the decisions of other like-minded groups different from ourselves?  Can we trade peacefully with someone with whose philosophy we disagree?

We humans, with our advanced technology, have succeeded in polluting our land and waters with factory farm runoff and pesticides and genetically engineered plants and animals not in nature, and we have succeeded in destroying the living nature of our soil.  We need to immediately cease operations of our factory farms and slaughterhouses and clean up the mess they have created.  We need to give up our pre-prepared foods, our out of season foods, our excessive meat consumption, our sugar addictions.  We need to engage in restorative, regenerative agriculture and organic family farms.  We need as much as possible to grow our own foods and re-learn the arts of cooking from scratch (men and women) and preserving foods.  Are we willing to learn?

We must realize that the time to abandon war has come.  If we believe that to stop killing each other is a sacrifice, can we understand the benefits of not existing under the fear of being attacked by another group or individual?  War is a major destroyer of the planet, and a major contributor to the systems which have brought us to where we are now.

We must give up the systems of banking and interest, which fuel the entirety of the destructive components we have now and create the massive inequality of resources with which we are now faced.  (check out the video, The Biggest Scam in the History of the World by, I believe, hiddensecretsaboutmoney.com, and posted also on Socratesgold.com/crucial-education-about-money/         Video #4) .We need to learn again to trade with each other and be willing to help a neighbor.  I think those are our basic instincts.  Are we willing to change to use them?

We need to give up big government, which by its very nature is more interested in amassing power than in the welfare of the people.  We need to give up the instruments of government control, such as massive surveillance, and instead be willing to agree on laws and mores in smaller groups, with the basic tenet being that each group respects the other and does not engage in violence against another.  Countries could still exist, but the control would be with the people, not from the top.  Can we have that conversation?

In all this, a respectful use of technology could help us.  It is the abuse of technology to dominate and consume the planet and disregard the other beings which inhabit it that is destructive now.  It is the use of technology to discourage the personal, physical connection of person to person so as to live behind a screen in an electronic interweaving which ignores nature, assuming that technology needs no nature,  that turns technology toxic to life.  Used correctly, this amazing tool could help us to do what we need.  We could start with science fiction (from which inventions often come) for ideas.  For example, in Frank Herbert’s Dune Trilogy, the people of the desert had unique ways of conserving and creating water which enabled them to live in the desert without destroying the often-fragile desert ecosystem.  We can turn to existing communities (check www.fic.org ), some of which have made great strides in sustainable, off-grid living, and some of which are expert on how to live and get along with others.

This posting has been decidedly longer than usual, and still covers only a part of what needs doing.  The bottom line is that it is time to stop focusing on the pandemic, or on whether our neighbor annoys us, or even on political parties (focus on candidates and issues instead).  We need right now to have the conversation of how we will make the many changes needed to save the planet which is our home.  That is a real and urgent issue, not a sentimental one.  The time is now.  Later will be too late.   Let us awaken now and put our energy into this conversation and these actions.

Peace, Diane

Fear Not

If there is one message that has resonated throughout the ages, forming a base for the millions of other messages given to aid mankind in spiritual or evolutionary growth, it is this:  Fear not; do not be afraid.  It is quoted by spiritual leaders, philosophers and statesmen.   Fear is recognized in psychology as a precursor to anger and a host of other negative assumptions.  From Ghandi comes, “The enemy is fear.  We think it is hate, but, it is fear.”  Jesus of Nazareth, according to John, declared, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  From Lao Tzu and Buddha come, “There is no illusion greater than fear,” and, “The whole secret of existence is to have no fear.”  Thoreau claims, “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.”  Mahmoud Mohammed Taha asserts, “The greatest obstacle to love is fear.” Franklin D. Roosevelt declares in his first inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  For years, mankind has been exhorted to release, let go of fear, and for years, mankind has mostly ignored that.

We currently live in a kind of Alice in Wonderland world, and we are already down the rabbit hole.   It seems that anything can happen, and that reasons, arguments and common sense make no difference.  Events occur in rapid succession, without apparent order, and in complete disconnect with any former idea of order.  Emotions rule, and the bandwagon is king; not much quite makes sense.  This is the breeding ground for fear.  We do not know just what will happen, and we are unsure of how to respond.  What will happen to us?  Fear raises its head.

One example of this is the current coronavirus outbreak, which, according to authorities, may become a pandemic, and which has already sickened and killed many and devastated economies.  The messages in the media accentuate its threatening nature, sometimes suggesting ways in which we should be prepared.  Fear grows.  We either ignore it so we don’t have to feel it or devote energy to watching out for it and trying to prepare.  Theories of the origin of the coronavirus abound.   Officially, the outbreak originated in a Chinese meat market which was selling wild killed meats; the virus first affected the Chinese and grew to epidemic proportions.  Much of China is now on lockdown/isolation, and movement of people from China is under high restriction, with flights being canceled, mandatory quarantines and the like.  This official summary is well reported in the news, together with the further spread of the virus.   Other theories hold that the virus is manufactured.  One purports that the disease was created to be vaccinated against by vaccine manufacturing companies that already had a vaccine to sell in the pipeline.  “Buying” this explanation requires acceptance of cold-blooded murder as a prerequisite to such an action, but in an Alice in Wonderland world, anything can happen.   Another theory of manufacturing asserts that the virus was developed as biological warfare and escaped from a laboratory in China.  Accidental, but not very comforting.  Aside from theories of how the virus originated are the speculations on why the media continues to cover it in detail, emphasizing the doom and gloom.    Granted that the media often loves the emotionally negative in order to attract attention, there is a lot of fear generated.  What might be the result of the high dose of fear?  Might people then give up their civil rights in order to ask the government to protect them and give them security (one result of 9/11 as well)?  Whatever one thinks about it, the message is clear: be afraid, and let anger and paralysis result.

If we refuse to fear, much of the power that events, or governments or oligarchies have over us is eliminated.  That does not mean that we close our eyes and refuse to see, or that we neglect to prepare in the best way we possibly can, or that we distance ourselves from others.   It does mean that when we are seeing, preparing, and acting compassionately towards others, we are doing this not because we are afraid of what is, or of doing or being wrongly, but because what we do is the best, most loving thing we can do to build a healthier, kinder, more just world.  If that means seeing the undercurrents of what goes on, then it is not because we fear those undercurrents, but because the understanding is needed before we can lovingly act.  If we are preparing, it is not because we are afraid of what will happen if we do not, it is because we are in the process of creating a world that does not hold in forefront those things towards which our preparations are geared.   If we try to help others, it is not because we are bad people if we do not, it is because helping them is the most fearless, loving thing we can do.  We see and strive to learn more; we understand and try to grow in wisdom; we object to that which destroys life – human, animal, plant or planetary – not because we are afraid of being destroyed, but because we love that life in all its aspects.   We do not grovel or cower.  The intent is key; to act lovingly erases fear.

Granted, it can be difficult to overcome fear.  Fear has been with us for generations.  The saber-toothed-tiger of today is far more complex and amorphous than that physical threat our ancestors could run from or fight.  Nevertheless, our growth as people, even our survival, depends on our overcoming ingrained fear.  Fear responses, including secondary fear responses such as anger and cruelty and war, are no longer viable.   The healing will be a grassroots effort, the combination of many of us actively growing towards a greater courage and love.  It will not come from governments, from the top.  The top perhaps fears more than any of us, and has the hardest time letting go of fear.  It is time to hear the message of our prophets and pundits, philosophers, artists and statesmen – Fear not!   Do not be afraid!

May we each encourage others, give and receive support as we learn as quickly as we can to let go of our fear and to grow in the courage of love and its qualities.

Peace, Diane

The Mystery of Paradox

It feels like a strange time just now.  Even the weather is strange.  The temperatures and ambience in the air signal spring; the amount of sunlight signals still winter.  My body does not seem to quite know what to do with that.  On the one hand, it wants to leap forward with spring.  On the other hand, it wants to hang back with winter and sleep.

I was going to write about something which I can see is true – a broad truth.  However, I have begun to see its paradox – that the opposite is true as well, and that the encompassing truth lies somewhere in the middle.  The broad truth is that although marching and protesting is good, eliminating fossil fuels is good, planting trees is good, giving up plastics is good, and so many more activities are excellent, it is not enough.  It will take all of us making difficult lifestyle changes such as releasing an addiction to convenience, focusing on cooperative decisions and the good of the group more than on individual decisions and the good of the self, mutual respect, ceasing war and competition that places winning above all else, and other deep changes if we are to avert the difficult effects of climate change.  In addition, these changes have an undefined but not indefinite timeline in which to take effect.

However, the opposite is also true.  No one of us can change the world alone.  None of us is responsible for making other people behave in the ways we can see are needed.  No one of us can be devalued for not achieving at the broad level; by ourselves it is not possible, even though we may do much.   Each little thing each of us does is valuable.  Each little increment we achieve is an attainment.  Even if we are making no visible progress towards averting the difficult effects of climate change, or even if we are one of those contributing to the rapid progress of those ominous effects, we cannot be judged – we are still valuable, and our actions still contribute in ways we may not see just now.

I have yet to arrive at the center point of this paradox.  Perhaps it lies in faith and hope.  Most probably, for each of us it lies in our extent of personal growth.  I think it may involve the willingness to continually grow, and to value each stage of our growth.  In the later parts of The Celestine Prophecy series by Dan Redfield,  the advanced people who have created harmony with nature and each other are dispersed by destructive forces (read it, I will not give away the plot), but come back in the next book to help the protagonists grow and avert global disaster.  That may be a good metaphor for us.

No, I don’t think we need to give up or think that we have done enough already. We have not.  Neither do I think that we should chastise ourselves for not doing more than we would like to be doing.   We need to keep trying, and at the same time, give ourselves room to grow and be in the moment that is.   If we keep both ends of the paradox beside each other in our minds, I do believe that eventually we, you and I, will arrive at the center of that paradox, and recognize it when we do.

May we have the courage to continue, and the compassion to love ourselves (and each other) where we are right now.

Peace, Diane

A New Decade

“There is no proof whatsoever for the story of three wise men, presumably astrologers, following a star to find a baby born in a stable and bedded in the cattle feed in a manger,” the speaker was saying in response to a mention of the New Testament account of that event.  “They could not have followed a star, because all stars – and planets, for that matter – rise and set like the sun, except for the North star.  The rising and setting stars are not always visible, and the North star always leads north, not into the Middle East.  It is constant and does not move to lead people.  That story was written by someone who hadn’t looked at the sky very much.”

The speaker had totally missed the point.  The important part of that recounting is deeper than the provability of its details.  Among other things, it tells of the ongoing search of humanity for that which is greater than humankind (called God by many), even though sometimes that longing is manifested in the denial that a greater aspect or entity exists.  It also shows the need to leave the focus on habitual, surface life in order to find the Infinite, and the dedication of one’s gifts (and each of us has a gift to offer) to that which is beyond self.

We are again at the beginning of a new year, and this time, a new decade as well.   It is easy, as we listen to the news and read the online feed on our phones or computers, to be aware of the innumerable chaotic, destructive, cruel and scary goings-on around us.  It is easy to understand, if we look at these happenings, that if we continue on these paths, the ultimate end is possibly our destruction – or at least the destruction of our civilizations and planetary support systems.  It is also easy to deny what we see and hear, and reassure ourselves that there is no proof of the certainty of these predictions and that of course, technology will save us and shield us from any ill effect that may – or may not – come.

The truth is that it is our reaction to events rather than the events themselves that makes the difference.  I would prefer to look on 2020 with eyes of hope.  That is not to say that I am blind or oblivious to the challenges of the times.  I am fully aware of the possibility of various kinds of disasters that may happen.  I do not deny the probability of some of these disasters if things continue as is.  I simply believe that these are not cast in stone, and that enough of us can hold the vision of a positive outcome to allow such a positive outcome to manifest.  It is said that one purpose of prophecy is to make people enough aware of current patterns that the patterns can be changed and the prophecy thus not occur.

However, to believe that things will improve, that all will be well, that the Earth will be saved from climate disaster, that people will live together in peace, respect and justice does not excuse anyone from the responsibility to act.  We are all one, and change, whether positive or negative, affects us all.    Each of us contributes, by action or even inaction, to the direction and quality of change.  The key is that our thoughts and actions must be in alignment with the change we wish to see.  If we wish to see more conflict between people, we will act towards others in hostile ways.  If we wish to see an Earth healed of the fever of climate change and extinctions, we will make sustainability an underpinning of our choices and speak for the value of renewable energy.  Our task is to hold the vision and act in alignment with it.

It is also important to recognize and respect the underlying Infinite reality from which our human story proceeds.  Put differently, we need to be aware when it occurs of the arrogance which says that humans are all powerful and control nature and living outcomes, that we need nothing but ourselves.  We need to set aside that arrogance, because it is only through connection with that primal energy which existed before the Big Bang that we derive our power.  When we deny it, we cut ourselves off from the Source of our strength.

As we enter 2020, let us each examine what it is we wish to create in the coming decade.  It is a complex question and requires complex answers.  Our answers in one way or another will support continued life, peace and joy or will support ongoing destruction and diminishment.  The choices of each of us matter, not in a legalistic sense, but in an artistic one, as a brush wielded to make a painting or a tool that helps to carve a sculpture.  What vision will we hold, and can we act in alignment with that vision?

Happy New Year!

Peace, Diane